August 13, 2009

ON BOARD S/Y BUSHIDO, OFF CORFU—In a state of pre-orgasmic tension and anticipation, I sail into Nat Rothschild waters off the north-east tip of the island. Just across the narrow channel lies Albania, the land that God forgot for close to 75 years. Greeks are known to dislike Albanians, but young Taki is an exception. Albanians are fair with blue eyes and are totally committed to stealing, as well they should be after 75 years of great poverty and Godless communism. As the crow flies, or better yet as the dolphin swims, two miles separate one of the world’s richest and best-connected families from Europe’s poorest schmucks. The Rothschild peninsula and compound is the green light of West Egg to Albanian Gatsbys pining from afar. After a very long and very drunken night in Paxos I sailed into Corfu just in time to see the modern Talleyrand’s easyJet flight disappear over the horizon. My dreams of an exclusive story about Tiberius-like gay orgies—with eucalyptus trees festooned with catamites flown over by David Geffen from Hollywood—are just that. Wishful thinking. Mandelson has slipped the trap and is on board Sir Stelios’s orange bird accompanied by Nicky Haslam as I sail in. And Geffen is also gone. The Rising Sun, the world’s ugliest stinkpot, has thankfully left Corfu heading for that other stinkpot, the French Riviera.

Mind you, having missed last year’s Corfiote extravaganza, it was typical of yours truly to be present at this year’s non-event. Instead of Dionysian festivities and Tinseltown excess, I dined with Lord Rothschild, his son Nat, and the efflorescing Florrie von Preussen, a rare beauty whose mother Victoria’s name is inscribed in my Hall of Shame (the list of ladies who got away). Here’s the young and intrepid Spectator Corfu correspondent’s take on Lord Mandelson’s visit. (I have also taken into account what 200 Albanian spies with telescopes and experienced lip readers had to say.) Despite rumours to the contrary, Mandelson is not running the country, Gordon Brown is. There was no Geffen–Mandelson–Haslam plot to meet and be gay. Geffen dropped anchor and blocked the villa’s views until an invite was forthcoming. It was as simple as that, however disappointed I am not to uncover a dark Corfiote plot to overthrow Gordon Brown and install Peter Mandelson as the numero uno in Downing Street. No gay conspiracy and no gay orgies make for a very dull high-life column, but such are the joys of telling it like it is.

As I sailed up from Cephalonia I was rubbing my hands with glee at what I was about to uncover. I had some beauties on board and my friend Sebastian Taylor was helping me with my pre-discovery research. After last year’s shenanigans—the cast of characters was straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel: George Osborne, Oleg Deripaska, Peter Mandelson, Rupert Murdoch, Matthew (the rat) Freud—there was no way that this year would be a flop. I saw it as a David Geffen-inspired move to out Gordon Brown and install his buddy Mandelson in No. 10. Nicky Haslam’s role I had not made up my mind about, but once I found out that Geffen had dropped in unannounced, all bets were off. There are many people who believe Gordon baby to have had a very gay past and claim that there’s a lot of photographic evidence to boot, but personally I don’t buy it. Brown is a disaster and out to ruin English traditions even more so than that war criminal Tony Blair, but whether he’s gay or not has nothing to do with the price of eggs. Homosexuality is illegal in backward Arab countries but not over here, thank God.

My, what a difference a year makes. Oleg Deripaska is at present fighting to preserve his wealth, and I am told that he is one of the few oligarchs who have played it straight. He was nowhere to be seen this year. The ghastly Abramovich, who last year was polluting Sardinia, showed up in Mykonos with his grotesque gin palace, which means Mykonos is finished for ever. Boris Berezovsky slouches behind high walls on the French Riviera, and despite his ill-gotten gains avoids public spaces because of his physical ugliness. Murdoch and Freud are being low-key and are busy learning to speak Chinese. The rest you know about. Madoff is in jail but his wife and two sons are not. The failure to investigate them is a great miscarriage of justice if ever there was one. Two weeks ago Madoff’s largest feeder, the egregious Andres Piedrahita, was spotted on his new $30-million gin palace off Venice. Thirteen thousand people have lost their life’s savings, Piedrahita has made close to a billion in fees, and the bum takes delivery of a new yacht without once blinking in shame. When and if I run into him, I will try to apply some justice.

Worse, young Taki has turned 73. I am giving a large dinner party on board and then heading for Gstaad. The life aquatic is great, but after a while I tend to get itchy feet. And there’s always the odd chance of running into Piedrahita. Or the rest of the other shameless people who fed Madoff hard-earned moolah.


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